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Judge tips – Copying part 1

A big part of Magic is copying things. Sometimes we copy spells, sometimes we copy creatures. As a level one judge working towards level two, you need to have a solid grasp on how copying things work. Note: As a level one you should know how copying works, too. You need a better understanding at level two, though.

The rules applied to copying things are lengthy. In order to avoid bogging our readers down in long articles, we will break this up into two parts. We will start with copying an object.

So let’s take a look at the CR (706 Copy Objects) and what it says about copying. CR. 706.1 Some objects become or turn another object into a “copy” of a spell permanent, or card. Some effects put a token onto the battlefield that’s a copy of another object. (Certain older cards were printed with the phrase “search for a copy” this section doesn’t cover those cards, which have received new text in the Oracle card reference.)

It goes on to 706.2. (In my opinion, this is the one you really need to understand.) When copying an object, the copy acquires the copiable values of the original object’s and, for an object on the stack choices made when casting or activating it (modes, targets, the value of X, whether it was kicked, how it will affect multiple targets, and so on.) The “copiable values” are the values derived from the text printed on the object (that being name, mana cost, color indicator, card type, subtype, supertype, rules text, power, toughness, and/or loyalty) as modified by other copy effects, by its face-down status, and by “as . . . is turned face up” abilities that set power and toughness (and may also set additional characteristics). Other effects (including type-changing effects), status and counters are not copied. 

Ok, so that’s a lot. What does it mean? Well, to put it simply, (thank you to Judgecast for this) when you copy a card you are making a photocopy of the card. That’s it. You are not copying any buffs, counters, enchantments, equipment, nothing. You are photocopying a card.

What if the card you are copying is a face-down morph card? Simple, you get a 2/2 colorless creature with no name that is face up. You will not be able to “morph” it for the cost the original creature had.

What if the card you are copying is a creature with a printed power and toughness of zero, but has 4 +1/+1 counters on it? Well, you just made a poor decision because now you have a 0/0 creature that is going straight to the graveyard when state-based actions are checked.

Let’s say you activate a Mutavault, turning it into a 2/2 land creature that is every creature type. Then, you cast a Clone and choose to copy your activated Mutavault. What is the Clone? Mutavault Clone

Since we know we are making an exact copy of the card, we now have a second Mutavault on the board that is not a creature. It does have the ability to turn into a creature, but it doesn’t enter as one.

What if we turn a forest into a 6/6 Elemental creature with Nissa, Sage Animist’s ultimate ability then cast a Clone? Again, we are making an exact copy of the card so we have a Forest. Yup, good job, you have another land in play.


Skipping ahead a bit, because this is important. Let’s look at CR.  706.4 Some effects cause a permanent that’s copying a permanent to copy a different object while remaining on the battlefield. This change doesn’t trigger enters-the-battlefield or leaves-the-battlefield abilities. This also doesn’t change any noncopy effects presently affecting the permanent. 

This means if you cast a spell that causes a permanent you control to become a copy of a Glory Seeker you control, it isn’t going to trigger your Soul Warden.

Soul Warden

The latter part of the rules tells us that your Glory Seeker with 5 +1/+1 counters on it will get to keep those counters even if it becomes the copy of another creature.

This seems pretty simple but it’s amazing how many times I have been asked about it.

Finally (at least for part one) let’s take a look at CR. 706.8 (specifically because we are dealing with double-faced cards in Shadows Over Innistrad) When copying a double-faced permanent, only the copiable values of the face that’s currently face up are copied.

Further, and this is addressed in CR711.25, the copy of your double-faced card does not have another side to it. If you cast a spell that instructs you to transform it, nothing will happen. When the conditions for its trigger are met, nothing happens when the trigger resolves.

That’s it for part one! Check back in a few days for part two of copying.

Patrick Cossel is the publisher of the Forge Herald. He is a father, husband, and Level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally, Patrick is the Operations Manager of a family owned newspaper group. He can be contacted at pcossel@gmail.com



© 2016, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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